David Villa's Return to Action Is Crucial for Barcelona

Simon EdmondsCorrespondent IAugust 22, 2012

BARCELONA, SPAIN - AUGUST 20:  David Villa of FC Barcelona runs with the ball during the Joan Gamper Trophy friendly match between FC Barcelona and Sampdoria at Camp Nou on August 20, 2012 in Barcelona, Spain.  (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
David Ramos/Getty Images

This weekend saw the long awaited return of Spain and Barcelona front man David Villa. Villa, who the fans lovingly nickname El Guaje ("The Kid" in the Asturian dialect), had been missing for nearly an entire year before coming on in the 75th minute in Sunday's 5-1 demolition of Real Sociedad.

Scoring the fifth and final goal for Barca, Villa looked to be making rapid improvement in regards to reaching full health again.

The timing of this comeback could not have been better for Lionel Messi and company. 

Despite another impressive campaign last year, Pepe Guardiola's last season in charge of the side ended is relative disappointment, with bitter rivals Real Madrid eventually winning the league.

In fact, the only trophy that Barcelona managed to win last season was the Copa Del Rey, where they ran out 3-0 victors in the final against Atletico Bilbao.

Many would credit Villa's injury as one of the most crucial reasons for this severe (by Barca's standards, anyway) lack of silverware in 2011-12.

With their best centre forward out of action, it fell on the shoulders of newly acquired Cesc Fabregas to step up to the plate and fill the very big boots that his Spain teammate left behind.

Unfortunately for Barca, despite showing what at first seemed to be a natural talent for the role, Fabregas eventually fell short in his efforts.

The style of play that Fabregas modeled his game around at Arsenal was—although similar—not what Barca needed him to carry out playing in the Villa slot.

Despite his best efforts to correct this, it became fairly apparent that, for now anyway, Fabregas is really not suited to playing in the position.

Sure, he ended up scoring a fair few goals, but when you have Messi and Xavi there to set you up, any professional footballer should be able to net at least 10 goals a season.

That's not to say Fabregas is a bad player or doesn't have a role at Barca. He certainly does.

It's just, this is not his calling with the Spanish giants.

With Villa back, the "issues" going forward last season will be more than resolved.

If El Guaje can find the type of form that he exhibited in his first season with Barca, and once again link up with strike partners Messi and Alexis Sanchez, then this could well and truly be another one of those seasons when the rest of the footballing world just steps back and takes their hats off to a masterful Barcelona side.

Thursday night Barca face Madrid in the first leg of the Spanish Super Cup. Although I don't expect Villa to start, it wouldn't shock me if he makes an appearance around the hour mark of the Clasico.

Real Madrid is a ridiculously tough fixture for your second game back, but with the class and ability that we all know Villa possesses, this could be a real sign of what is to come from his this season.

Expect his goal tally to reach the 20 to 25 mark come the end of the footballing year in May.